Developer's Request To Build A Septic Waste System Is Put On Hold By Saugatuck
The ongoing development at the former Presbyterian Camps just south of Oval Beach has prompted Saugatuck City officials to ask if it is legally possible to compel that developer—and future developers— to pay the city a sum for connecting to a septic waste system rather than connecting to the municipal sewer system.
The proposed amendment on Monday night’s agenda would allow Dune Ridge SA to install a septic field in lieu of connecting homes to the city’s municipal sewer system. The current regulation dictates that developers/property owners must connect to the city system.
Developer David Barker has plans to install drain fields as part of a septic waste system for each of the 21 high-end homes at the 130-acre Presbyterian property, which lies in a critical sand dune area and fronts Lake Michigan.
As for water, he has plans to connect to the municipal system.
“I’m curious if there was a mechanism to level the playing field. It’s not just the utility that’s giving up revenue. We lose out on hookup charges,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Mark Bekken.
“Not that I am looking for another revenue stream, but we should consider it if we are called into question (by our constituents) if this eliminates an expense to the developer.”
Bekken, who also is board president of the local wastewater treatment plant, the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority, wondered if it was possible to charge a developer who chooses to install septic fields in lieu of hooking up to the municipal sewer.
“I don’t know what options are out there,” he said. “We owe it to the people that have been paying for this thing for a long time.”
His colleagues concurred, reiterating it was necessary to do their due diligence to look further into the matter and unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone taking action on the Dune Ridge SA request so as to seek guidance from the city attorney.
In explaining why he wanted to create a new septic system, Barker said connecting to the city sewer system would result in having to carve through dunes and also would mean higher density development on the property.
“We’d rather keep a low density and a high price point,” Barker told the council.
He added that he would readily pay any required fees (to be allowed to build a septic system).
His original plan consisted of eight homes and he says he plans on adding 13 more for a total of 21 units.
That planned unit development (PUD) will have to pass a Saugatuck Planning Commission review and go before city council for final approval.